Memories in the Rain
A/N: Written for the IchiRuki LJ's April Contest 2005. Title comes from the "Memories in the Rain" story arc of the manga (chapters 133-136). I'd linked the rain themes in Bleach before, but not like this; and I'm actually proud of this so I hope you enjoy reading it.
Revised June 22nd, 2008.
Rukia has a thing for the rain, he decides upon looking at her childish grin and the mirth evident in her blue, blue eyes. Yes, it is definitely some bizarre liking to it that she has taken recently. But Ichigo doesn't find himself liking the rain as much as she does.
Rain makes him feel both literally and figuratively 'under the weather'. Because no matter how many memories you collect through years, there are certain ones that you never forget, turning points in life that can be as equally good as bad. That is what rain does to him: it makes him remember things from a long time ago. But they are always things that he would rather not remember, not experience again.
The most vivid memory in the rain that he has is that of his mother's death.
It is clear and terrifying and heartbreaking.
He remembers waking up on a muddy grass and holding onto Masaki's cold, wet hands. The hands he'd held onto so proudly minutes before. Ichigo can visualize his younger self with wide, horrified eyes face dirty, and body shaking uncontrollably down on the grass below the sidewalk that ran along with the riverbank. He remembered well: his arms had not responded to his brain as he urged himself to push his mother's limp form in search for a reaction, any reaction, despite knowing well it would never come. The rain had begun clearing away her blood as the feeling of loss engrained itself in his mind.
He curses that day with the same vehemence that he did so many years ago.
Then, there's another memory, of something that took place not long ago. In such memory, the rain had a liking to his blood as well, taking and mixing it with the wet soil as he gasped for air and Rukia, that strange, black-haired girl that had pushed her way into his life, held him so very tightly against her chest.
He guessed he had started crying somewhere between his futile attempt of running after the Fisher hollow (oh, he'd never been so desperate) and slumping against the power-stripped shinigami, because the only things he could really see then were his own tears and the rain.
"Thank you," Rukia had whispered in the softest of voices, but he didn't hear anything else because he had been too exhausted and had fallen unconscious in her arms. His mind had slipped into the bliss of ignorance.
And finally, there was that time when Rukia was taken to Soul Society. He had found himself bleeding to death on the cold pavement, savoring the copper of blood in his mouth while his body refused to move an inch even when his mind screamed at him to do so. He hated that sense of powerlessness and weakness, of not being able to protect her like he had promised. Ichigo felt that he had failed her and so, he had failed himself, once again.
But what he had hated the most was not being able to look at her when she left him there, immobilized as the blood still trickled down his brow and over one of his eyes. Her figure simply blended into the rain and became but one blurred image as she followed her brother submissively through the doors of Heaven. It had looked almost as if she had disappeared with the rain, forever.
Right then, it had been the rain that was taking something from him, wasn't it?
Ichigo had gathered the courage to ask Rukia once, months after bringing her back from the hell at Soul Society, why her eyes seemed to drift whenever she watched the rain. Her gaze was torn away from the window and she glared at him hotly. "It's not your business," she hissed. And when he insisted, she'd thrown at him an angry retort, asking the same question before freezing on the spot and immediately regretting her words.
Rukia had apologized hastily and scurried into her closet with no further word. Thirty minutes passed before he had to knock on the panel door of his –her– closet and barked at her to come out. But she didn't, so he slid the door open and found her nestled up in her pajamas fast asleep.
He had given up on the subject the moment she had looked at him with those big, blue eyes of hers, filled with regret and hurt. But two nights later, however, Rukia had willingly whispered to him, as they sat next to each other on his bed, about bloody bodies, and losing precious people, and crying hearts, and gray clouds, and thunders.
And so, now that Ichigo thinks about it, he doesn't like rain that much, after all, and can't find a reason to do so.
But now, here he is, watching her play again under the rain. He's holding the purple umbrella as he walks a few paces away from her. Rukia is running freely around the park, not caring much about her newly bought, blue dress or her soaked hair that sticks to her pale face. She is as unperturbed as the line of tall cherry and peach trees on the right to the sidewalk, leaves dripping down with rainwater. She stops from time to time to lean down to caress the wet camellias and irises down the road. She doesn't mind the rain at all; not even if Rukia knows all too well the kick ass cold she'll get afterwards.
She leans down once again, plucks a tiny wildflower from the flower-filled sidewalk, and runs up to Ichigo. Her tiny, wet fingers brush his cheek as she tucks the flower behind his ear. The red, little, flimsy thing shines against his orange-haired head. She laughs and runs off away before he can say anything to her.
He grunts and keeps on walking, the scowl in his face deepening as his fingers curl around the umbrella tightly. He can feel the red flower against his skin, caressing his cheek.
Once they get near the playground, Rukia starts swirling in her spot and she opens wide her arms to catch the rain with her hands and with her tongue. The rain softly kisses her face and the wind ruffles her hair as she smiles, the sight is so unlike her usual self that it makes Ichigo doubt if it's truly her or some kind of illusion.
He doesn't quite understand Rukia.
Rain has taken so much from them.
"Rukia," he starts without really thinking about it. He's frustrated and intrigued, so he can't help himself from asking all of a sudden: "Why do you like the rain so much?"
His voice snaps her from her trance and Rukia stops whirling in circles. The girl steadies herself and then cocks her head to the side. He is scowling, yes, but the sincerity of his question is visible in his eyes. But then again, she merely looks up at him incredulously, almost as if he's just asked the world's most stupid question.
"Why?" she wonders, her big, blues eyes gazing back at him calmly. The look on her face speaks for herself. She is thinking, 'you should know already,' but still, she favors him with a reply. "The day… The day I came home at last, back to you… It was raining that day,"
Ah, he remembered too: how Soul Society had protested to letting her stay with him and how they'd tried to make them give up, how he'd been frustrated and angered and had told them off rather bluntly, and how his own father had had to interfere before he did something stupid like usual. It hadn't been easy and when months passed and Rukia was starting to become a memory too, he'd began to think it would turn up to be only that, another memory.
"And you were smiling too," she tells him, waking him up from his trance. "That's why. I just decided, Ichigo, that I'm going to make new memories in the rain. Happy ones."
He's startled when she shrugs and smiles devilishly before running up to him and taking the umbrella from his grasp. Ichigo yelps as the cold water droplets hit his skin, and he can hear Rukia laughing from behind.
"Catch me, idiot!" She sticks out her tongue at him and runs away.
Ichigo is drenched completely now, the water seeping into his clothes and a sense of déjà vú overwhelming him, but he doesn't care. He smirks to himself as he settles on chasing her.
"Rukia! Wait up, Rukia, you bitch!"
As he runs after her, he thinks that perhaps that that's good enough of a reason for him to like the rain as well.
"I'm back, Ichigo, you idiot," Rukia smiles at him and the rain drenches her from head to toe, dripping from the curls of her raven-colored hair.
There are certain memories that you never forget, after all.
He grins at her too, losing the umbrella in his hands. "Welcome home, Rukia."
Extra note: The season flowers where I live are a bit too exotic for Japan. And, as far as my research went, camellia, irises, lotus, and mustard flowers bloom from March to May in Japan, but I might be, very, very mistaken, so, please forgive me for that.